The Bane of a Mandate

It’s only now that I discovered this.

In the Philippines, the law mandates that every city and municipality should have a public library. You can find here the entire details of the Republic Act.

This made me disappointed and happy at the same time. It’s like being given an equal serving of both the good and bad news.

On the positive side, the law made me realize that the government values the importance of reading and the critical role that libraries play. More than a place for books, the library is treated as a place to learn, discover, and improve the population’s  literacy.  I can personally attest to this claim. I consider myself as a living example of how reading improved my learning and writing skills. Reading gave me a happier and lighter learning opportunity.

I believe the law also gave Librarians their desired good news. Librarians feel a sense of value and empowerment in their profession.

Come with the good news is a story of disappointment. Why? Obviously, not all cities and municipalities are complying with the mandate. In Manila, there used to be the City Library of Manila when I was still in College. I’ve never been to the City Library because I was always headed to the National Library. Years before I graduated from college, a classmate told me that the City Government shut down the Library.  Years after and I’m already working, the Library’s building remained as an idle space.

I’m sure, Manila is not the first to eradicate their city library.  There are more cities to form the list. I don’t need to discuss and make a long list to prove the need for a city library.  Some might tell me that there’s Google and the illegal e-books everywhere. So why bother to maintain a city library? In the case of the Philippines, we have to consider the fact that not everyone has immediate access to a computer with internet connection at any time of the day. Internet is cheaper but users still have to pay. As for e-books, we all know that not all kids have the platform for e-books.  Not in the case of a public library, where anyone can freely access every resource.

I guess this is another classic example of a law that is meant for archiving than working.

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One thought on “The Bane of a Mandate

  1. I remember seeing a news item on tv about a man in Makati who has a small library of donated books and he allows people to borrow and even take home the books. That small library is always full of people of all ages. He says they all look so eager for the reading materials. I think that is just one simple proof that libraries are not only needed but very much appreciated in every community in our country.

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